We’re living in a brave new world. ChatGPT was just released last fall, and it has brought some new challenges for us as language teachers.
Student’s are using it to write essays and, in some cases, outright cheat on assignments 😨
So we cannot help thinking: Is AI solely a burden on us, a smart cheating assistant for students?
In this article we're sharing 4 key points that we and other language teachers have found to help us navigate this brave new world:
Let’s dive in!
As teachers, we know how difficult it is to explain something we don't understand in the first place. We need a clear definition to help us get it, and at the same time, one we can share with students.So I'm just sharing the simplest explanation I came up with to understand what's ChatGPT about. Here’s what I say to my students:Imagine Siri or Alexa, but even smarter when it comes to language. ChatGPT is like having a super-smart computer friend. It lives up to its name, so you literally chat with it.It's powered by a fancy technology called Artificial Intelligence. This means it can understand what you're saying and respond to you, almost like a real person.Interesting thing about ChatGPT is that it doesn't “know” things in the same way we do. It doesn't have feelings or experiences, and it hasn't learned from going to school, like us. Instead, it's been trained on tons of information from the internet, books, and many other sources. You can ask ChatGPT all sorts of questions or even tell it a story. It will use its super brain to come up with answers that make sense. However, keep in mind that not everything it says is always right, so it's good to double-check this information with teachers, parents and other places.Feel free to use this explanation with your students!Next thing we found is that we also need the right approach when using ChatGPT and AI in our language classroom. That approach is: specific escenarios in a controlled environment.In order to turn all the challenges brought by ChatGPT in our favor, we need some kind of AI policy. That's the next thing we're gonna talk about.
There is a reference point we can use to help us think about how to form an AI policy in our classroom. That is the introduction of calculators and math education. The technology behind ChatGPT is called Large Language models. They are to language education what a calculator is to learning math. So when we look to understand what policies we put in place in our classroom, we can look at what has worked well in math classes and assessments.Here are a few ideas:
Just like in math class, where we had to show each step of our problem-solving process. It's critical to foster a similar approach in language learning with AI tools.Ask students to write down their thought process when using ChatGPT for an assignment. What are the steps they took?This will help them to understand the process and it also deters them from merely copying generated answers.
We don't want students to overly rely on AI tools. So how can we ensure students are using their own knowledge and skills?Timed in-class assessments can be a strategy for that.Be clear and specific about when and how they can use ChatGPT. It's a resource for checking their work or generating ideas. Remind them it's not a means to complete the entire task. This keeps a balanced and trustworthy assessment environment.
Communicate to students on the potential downsides of over-relying on AI assistance. Make emphasis on the importance of developing their skills and understanding. ChatGPT can be helpful for learning, but cutting corners can hinder both their learning journey and personal growth. Encourage students to use AI as a supplement to their studies and to nurture authentic learning and skill development.
Now that we know how to create some rules on AI usage, we're ready to start using ChatGPT in class!At this point, we just need the right prompts to make the most out of this tool. Because without them, we're only gonna get ourselves and our students frustrated. We've collected a number of the best prompts. Here you go.
These prompts will help you make the most out of this teaching technology. They've been divided into 3 categories: ChatGPT for content creation, as a grading assistant and for giving feedback to students.
🔤 Prompts for generating word lists. These ones cover a range of topics and proficiency levels. Tailor the word lists to your specific teaching needs:
❓ Prompts for devising multiple-choice questions. Align them with the content of your world languages class. Here are some examples:
📚 Prompts for developing lesson content. What about these creative ideas for lesson planning?
You can ask ChatGPT to grade essays, oral presentations, pronunciation assessments, translation exercises and students’ responses.Use the following prompts for the different kinds of language assignments mentioned above:
Ask ChatGPT to correct grammar and check pronunciation. To enhance the interaction, consider using this Google Chrome plugin. It allows voice control and text-to-speech functionalities for a more engaging experience.Here are some prompts to get ChatGPT providing students with constructive feedback:
Last but not least, we need a safe space to help us apply the best approach for using AI and ChatGPT in our language classroom.
Like ChatGPT, Speakable uses a Large Language Model. The key difference between the two is how it’s used.ChatGPT is an open chat experience. Students can either use it for learning or cheating and it's difficult for teachers to monitor.Speakable leverages large language models for specific learning assignments - where you, language teacher, are always in charge.Here’s how you can use Speakable for creating controlled AI learning activities:
In a nutshell, ChatGPT serves as a super-smart computer friend. It can help with learning, answer questions and hold conversations.It's a fantastic tool, but it might not always give the right answers. So let’s remind students to double-check with other sources and people to make sure the information is accurate.While ChatGPT is a handy digital assistant, Speakable is all about organized and safe learning. It's designed for specific learning activities that language teachers can control.
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